Atlanta Journal-Constitution awarded Toner Prize for political reporting

Screenshot of AJC special report about the campaign to undermine Georgia's election.

Credit: AJC

Credit: AJC

Screenshot of AJC special report about the campaign to undermine Georgia's election.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday was awarded the Toner Prize for Excellence in Local Political Reporting for its coverage of the aftermath of the 2020 elections.

The award from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications was for “Inside the campaign to undermine Georgia’s elections,” a multipart digital package examining the tumultuous period between the November 2020 presidential election and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Toner judge Maralee Schwartz called the AJC’s in-depth package “superior work.”

“The epic narrative and the embedded explanatory sidebars created a powerful portrait of the shocking events in Georgia and Washington as (President Donald) Trump obsessively pressured to undermine the election results in the state,” Schwartz said. “They combine contemporaneous reporting with information gathered after individual events and from other sources — lots of depth.”

Toner judge Lynette Clemetson called the AJC package “a thorough reconstruction and a good read.”

In the aftermath of the 2020 election, Georgia was ground zero for the biggest election dispute of modern American history as Trump and his supporters sought to undermine the state’s election integrity.

“The 2020 election tested our democracy,” AJC Editor Kevin Riley said. “Nowhere was that more clear than in Georgia, where Election Day gave way to recounts, lawsuits, fraud allegations and protests. The newsroom of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution rose to the challenge. Our reporters and editors worked tirelessly for months to explain what happened and why. It wasn’t easy. And, even now, the story isn’t over.

“I’m immensely proud of the work of our politics and government team and gratified that they’ve been recognized with this prestigious award,” Riley said.

The stories were reported by David Wickert, Greg Bluestein, Mark Niesse, Maya T. Prabhu, Tia Mitchell, Isaac Sabetai and Jim Galloway. Editors on the project were Susan Potter, James Salzer and Jim Denery. Photography was contributed by AJC staff and wire photos. Pilar Plata, Dave Young and Donella Cohen worked on the design and development of the series.

The prize is named for Robin Toner, the first female national political correspondent for The New York Times. Previously, she had covered local politics at the AJC.

The Washington Post was the winner of the Toner Prize for National Political Reporting for its work on “The Attack,” an investigation into the causes and aftermath of the U.S. Capitol riot.